This week in PHL, it’s “Too Late to Cry.” S & I tend to just call this one “the Rumba,” because of its vaguely latin rhythm. Granted, neither of us have actually heard a rumba, so it’s likely that that rhythm has nothing really rhumboid about it. We’re not too precise in musical matters. Anyway, I recommend opening the link in a new tab, so you can read the lyrics as the song plays. That way the full force of the musical genius can wash over you like the splash of a little puddle over a shoe…
It’s too late to cry,* you know
Well, you should have seen this coming down the road
Now all your friends can’t help but gloat**
‘Cuz now you’re reaping what you sowed
What you sowed
What you sowed
Some say I have no decency at all
And that I get off on being cruel and cold***
Some say I just found your love too much
The truth is I just had enough
I had enough
I had enough…
But seeing you walk away so shaken
Makes me almost wish I took less than I had taken
So hate me if you feel that you must
Just don’t expect me to express remorse
For like a wolf with a taste for little lambs****
I am reconciled with what I am
Yes I am
Yes I am*****
* I wrote this song after listening to the great Lonnie Johnson’s “Too Late to Cry.” (What, a mildly talented white guy imitating a crazy talented black guy? It’s unheard of!) In Johnson’s song, a long suffering cuckold of a lyrical “I” is telling his no good skank to hit the road. In my song, things are reversed. The lyrical “I” is a total asshole, telling someone he’s duped into loving him to get lost. There are undoubtedly assholes like this in the world, but they seldom say what they do or articulate what they are. This one apparently does. He’s thus a kind of double agent.
** A lovely word. It sounds like it means, but it also looks like the act it signifies. “Gloat” sort of looks like “glo at,” and gloating does kind of have the effect of the gloater’s “glowing at” the gloatee. “Gloatee,” ha! That’s a good one. I’m awesome. Yes, I am.
*** Again, with an allusion to Gilles Deleuze’s study of masochism, Coldness and Cruelty. The book must have really made an impression on me. Actually, the reference might be thought to be somewhat miscast in this song, since here we are dealing with a sadist, not a masochist. As Deleuze’s study convincingly argues, the two complexes really have nothing to do with each other whatsoever. Pleasure and pain take on completely different meanings in each respective case. Hence, a sadist would never seek out a masochist, nor vice versa. Granted, the joke about the sadist and the masochist who meet a bar remains a funny one. The masochist turns to the sadist and asks, “Will you please hurt me?” To which the sadist responds: “No.” By the way, I was very disappointed in the Jess Franco B movie, Venus in Furs. Totally misleading title.
**** An interesting argument, reminicscent of William Blake’s notion that different laws apply to lions and oxes, tigers and lambs. A notion that Blake picks up from The Book of Job no doubt, with its construction of the world as the interaction of non-empathetic agencies. So is the lyrical “I” seeking to absolve himself of all responsibility for his actions or is he really not responsible for the kind of creature that he is? The question puts me in mind of Friedrich Schelling’s idealist solution to the antinomy of freedom and necessity.
***** A chatty bald man had a nice way of misreading the Cartesian formula of “dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum” as a kind of progressive apotheosis: “I doubt that I am, I think that I am, I am that I am.” It is a progression from a state in which one can be willed away to a state in which one being willed away is no longer possible. In any case, it pleases me to end a song in a statement of pure self-affirmation. One would just have to distinguish between the self-affirmation of the enunciated subject and that of the subject enunciating. Granted, some might find both such affirmations equally horrifying.